Fifo is Training Manager and the Communications Secretary for UpAndOver Dog Agility Club. As Training Manager, she is responsible for all of the trainers, the focus of our group lessons and all of the skills being taught. As Communications Secretary she is responsible for maintaining the membership list, keeping the waiting list, communicating all club matters to the membership, running our Facebook page and designing the website.
I started having dogs when I was young, very young. Mum got a puppy three weeks before I was born and I have loved dogs ever since! When we were posted to Cyprus I rescued a Cyprus Pointer puppy that had been thrown out of a car! Only 8 weeks old – who could resist?! We took her in and fed her on Pedigree Chum and Winalot ground down in the food processor (no puppy food in those days) and after that life without a dog was unimaginable.
Back in the UK we acquired our first Border Collie, George, and he was a fabulous family pet. (He’d have loved Agility if I’d known about it in those days.) After he died I got 2 more Border Collies and with some more Obedience work under our belt Meg and I joined UpAndover on our new learning path together. One KC Agility win, 2 UKA wins, a 4th at the UKA Grand Finals, many place rosettes and dozens of clear rounds later Meg sadly retired, aged 11. Sadly, both dogs are no longer with me but my love of agility continues.
I first joined UpAndover in 2005 when Meg was 3 and the club trained at Catherstone. Sunday classes qualified us to remain with the club and I have loved Agility from that moment onwards. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes they’d found it sooner, but better late than never!! Training with a group is lovely and I have always had great supportive instructors. It was also where I met my newest but probably my best friends, with whom I now train and compete. Without them life would be much poorer and much less fun! When I was asked by Karen to be an instructor I was nervous to begin with, but my teaching role helped me to gain in confidence and I have been training at the club for about the last 5 years. Now an Agility First instructor, my enjoyment of learning is being rekindled and I’m on the way to becoming an Agility First XL instructor/coach. The club’s great support for each other at competitions and encouragement of each other is something I believe is unique. Our ring parties and general friendliness and helpful nature makes our club a pleasure to be a part of.
I first started competing in 2007 after 2 years training. At our very first show we got eliminated in the Nursery class (I hadn’t realise you’d get eliminated for going back over the dogwalk!). Someone then told me you could enter the beginners steeplechase too, so although the class had started and I had no opportunity to walk the course I entered and we got our first clear round! From then on I was hooked!! After that Meg’s reliability and usefulness at getting me out of tight spots became our trademark.
Some of our highlights were making it to the finals of the pairs with Karen Laker and Flint, winning out of G2 at Gillingham, coming 8th at the UKA Nationals and finally coming 4th in the UKA Grand Finals in 2012 with Jemma Parker and Jess in the Split Pairs, with the only double clear round. One of my biggest disappointments was not getting into the final of the Nationals in 2012. Making it into the 2nd round and with only 1 obstacle between us and the final, Meg crashed the spread and that was that! So close but no cigar! Now I also enjoy judging at UKA shows and if you see me down to judge, bring your waterproofs! I always seem to judge on rainy days!
I now have a gorgeous young Cockapoo Alfie. Despite his hip dysplasia, with frequent home physio, we are able to compete and in 2018, after dreaming of it, qualified for a National Final. Alfie has also won KC Grade 3 Jumping and is generally just loving his Agility experience. A noisy competitor, Alfie’s excitement levels can be something of a challenge but then there’s always something to work on in Agility!
Currently I instruct the Starters on Thursdays as they come to try out Agility. It is so rewarding seeing others take on the joy of a sport that you love and making new friends in the process!